Starting a clinic in a new city—with new referral sources and limited networks—can be very challenging. But with the right online marketing strategy, you can expedite the process. In fact, over the last three months, I’ve been able to grow my patient base by using old school word-of-mouth marketing and establishing an online presence in the local community. There are many ways to use the power of the Internet to market to patients and referring providers, and in this post, I’ll provide one tip for each area of digital marketing—blogging, social media, and email—that has produced results for me.

The PT’s Guide to Billing - Regular BannerThe PT’s Guide to Billing - Small Banner

1. Write Blogs Patients Actually Want to Read

More and more, patients are using search engines like Google to find physical therapy services. Direct access has played a major role in this change, and patients are taking it upon themselves to do the research and find the right physical therapists for their needs. Almost all physical therapy websites have pages dedicated to highlighting their teams, their areas of specialization, what services they offer, and where to find them. So, how can you make your clinic stand out online? Writing engaging blog posts is an excellent first step toward standing out from the crowd.

Most physical therapists, including myself, aren’t Hemingway. For that reason, writing a blog post may seem like a daunting task. So, break it down to something simpler: If you had to write one blog post this month, what would it be about? How do you know your audience is looking for that type of information? To get a better look at your prospective patients’ online behavior, you can use Google Webmasters—a free Google that helps you monitor and maintain your site's presence in Google search results—in conjunction with Google Analytics, another free service that helps you monitor website activity. Google Webmaster allows you to see what keywords led your visitors to your website. In my case, I saw that I had a couple of users who were looking for ways to prevent skiing injuries. Based on this piece of data, I organized my blog calendar to prioritize posts about skiing and snowboarding-related topics above all else. I then shared my blog posts across all my social media channels—including Google+, Twitter, and Facebook—and, with help from Google Analytics, I’ve been able to track how many new web visitors I garnered as a result of the posts as well as which social media channels were the most effective in driving traffic to those posts. Making time for writing can be difficult—especially when you have a good volume of patient visits—but it’s an important activity that will help to attract new patients.

2. Ask Patients to Share Their Experiences

In addition to using search engines to look for physical therapy services, patients are consulting review sites like Yelp to find clinics and read reviews from current and former patients. In this post, I won’t go into the nitty-gritty details of how Yelp works (for more information, read this post), but a general rule of thumb is having a healthy number of highly-rated reviews—especially compared to your competition—from Yelp users who have a strong history of reviewing on Yelp will increase your clinic’s ranking on this particularly influential directory.

We love hearing how we have positively impacted our patients’ lives, and—as simple as this may sound—asking our patients for reviews has been our best way of getting them. As the old saying goes, ask and you shall receive. We educate our patients on how testimonials play a huge role in:

  • helping future patients decide where to seek medical care and
  • determining where doctors refer their patients.

We ask our customers for feedback online via an automated survey and I follow-up with our patients a week later if I don’t hear back. In addition to asking customers for feedback online, we always ask for feedback after every visit. That way, we can make sure they are getting the service they want.

As a physical therapists, we love helping people get back to functioning and living pain free, but if we’re also passionate about enlisting our patients as advocates for building our practices—via testimonials, reviews, and social media participation—we can grow our practices and thus, help even more people.

3. Send Emails (But Hold the Spam)

Email has been an extremely helpful piece of my marketing strategy as it allows me to communicate with a lot of people instantaneously. There is some upfront leg-work involved in determining who a potential referring practice’s administrator or clinic manager is, but once I get that contact information, I send an email introducing myself and asking for a face-to-face meeting to drop off marketing material. I then use that one-on-one time to gain some insight on the potential referral source’s needs—whether it’s in-service for employee safety or ergonomics, educating a certain patient population on injury prevention, or creating a specialized return-to-sport program. Each one of these encounters represents an opportunity to grow my clinic network, and even if the person is not interested in my services or already has an established preferred physical therapy clinic, I will ask for recommendations on other providers or organizations with whom I can build relationships. And of course, I make sure every email I send is personal, sincere, clear, and specific to what I am requesting.  


Regardless of how long your clinic has been around, the three tips above can help you use digital marketing to increase your patient base. If you have any questions, post them in the comments below or reach out to me on Twitter: @therapydiaPDX.

About the Author

Jason Villareal, DPT, ATC, is the clinic director at Therapydia Portland. Prior to joining Therapydia, Jason ran two successful outpatient orthopedic physical therapy clinics in Coos Bay, Oregon, and Newport Beach, California.

Jason has been involved in the sports medicine and physical therapy field for the past 14 years. He has had the opportunity to work at the high school, collegiate, and professional level with athletes, while also helping patients in the pediatric, geriatric, inpatient, outpatient, transitional care, and home health settings. Jason has spoken at large physical therapy conferences regarding clinical efficiency and was most recently invited to speak at Grand Rounds for the physicians at Bay Area Hospital regarding running analysis and injury prevention.

Now, Jason is excited to contribute his knowledge and experience to the Portland community. He takes pride in achieving positive outcomes for each and every one of his patients.

Outside of the clinic, Jason stays active with his beautiful wife, Abbie, and little girl, Edie.

  • How to Spend Your Clinic’s Marketing Dollars for Maximum Returns Image

    articleAug 17, 2016 | 11 min. read

    How to Spend Your Clinic’s Marketing Dollars for Maximum Returns

    As author and marketing guru Seth Godin says, “In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is a failure. In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible.” If you want to stand out in the rehab therapy marketplace—and potentially grow your clinic—then spending money on marketing is essential. But, to ensure a maximum return on investment, you’ve got to carve out—and carefully manage—your physical therapy clinic’s budget. Knowing where to put those dollars can …

  • How to Take Over the Internet: 5 Simple Strategies to Win More Patients Image

    webinarFeb 27, 2015

    How to Take Over the Internet: 5 Simple Strategies to Win More Patients

    Nowadays, everyone is looking for a way to “go viral” online. But with all that go-big-or-go-home hype, it’s easy to get intimidated—and that leaves many small business owners wondering if they have the time, resources, or wherewithal to even make a dent in the Internet, let alone break it.  Don’t get stuck in the muck and mire of cliché goals; you don’t have to hit a million views to make a big impact online. As a private …

  • D’Oh! 3 Major Physical Therapy Marketing Fails Image

    articleSep 18, 2017 | 8 min. read

    D’Oh! 3 Major Physical Therapy Marketing Fails

    Homer Simpson introduced the catchphrase “d’oh!” on the long-running cartoon sitcom, The Simpsons, in 1989. It’s arguably one of the most recognizable catchphrases in American pop culture. So much so, in fact, that the Oxford Dictionary of English added the word in 2001. Defined as an informal exclamation “used to comment on a foolish or stupid action, especially one's own,” “d’oh” is the most fitting—and safe for work—reaction to committing a major fail. “D’oh” is even more …

  • The 3 Immutable Laws of Direct Access Marketing Image

    articleOct 15, 2014 | 8 min. read

    The 3 Immutable Laws of Direct Access Marketing

    It took expensive membership dues, countless lobbying and volunteer hours, and 25 years, but we finally did it: Direct access to physical therapy services is now available in all 50 states in at least one form or another. It wasn’t easy, so it’s important to take a few moments to celebrate our achievements and raise a glass to all of the passionate physical therapists and physical therapy advocates out there who made it happen. Okay, time’s up—and …

  • How to Get New Patients: Calling Dr. Google! Image

    articleAug 14, 2014 | 4 min. read

    How to Get New Patients: Calling Dr. Google!

    Brrrring! Just like that, my phone rings, and on the other end of the line is a new patient inquiring about an appointment—a new patient sent from my number-one referral source. This source requires no pandering, office lunches, or thank-you letters, and it will refer hundreds of new patients to your practice, too. Who is it? Dr. Google, of course. Dr. Google is the referral source I have to thank for the majority of new patients who …

  • Hiring the Right Marketing and Sales Person for Your Practice Image

    articleMay 15, 2014 | 5 min. read

    Hiring the Right Marketing and Sales Person for Your Practice

    As a physical therapist, you know that the vast majority of the general public could benefit from your services in one way or another. The sad reality, though, is that most people don’t even know what physical therapists do —let alone how seeing a PT could drastically improve their quality of life. In any business, though, profits are driven by demand. And if you want to keep your doors open—or better yet, grow your practice—then you have …

  • PTs Are Salespeople Too Image

    articleMay 7, 2014 | 6 min. read

    PTs Are Salespeople Too

    Salespeople often get a bad rap—for being too pushy, too manipulative, too flat-out obnoxious. And many times, that negative association is well deserved. I mean, when’s the last time you picked up a telemarketing call and said to the person on the other end of the line, “Thank you so much for interrupting my family dinner! Of course I want to take advantage of this one-time credit card offer!” The problem is, sales stereotypes often prevent legitimate …

  • Common Questions from Our Physical Therapy Patient Retention Webinar Image

    articleMar 28, 2018 | 12 min. read

    Common Questions from Our Physical Therapy Patient Retention Webinar

    Strive Labs co-founders Ryan Klepps and Scott Hebert recently joined WebPT president Heidi Jannenga for an insightful webinar about improving patient retention and reducing early patient drop-out. We know this is a super-relevant topic, especially because the cost of diminishing patient visits represents a $6 billion problem that not many people in the industry are talking about—at least not yet. As a result, we received a slew of great questions that we couldn’t get to live on …

  • articleSep 4, 2013 | 4 min. read

    Four Metrics Critical to Your Blog

    So you’ve started blogging , and that’s fantastic. It’s a great way to get your message out to the masses—whether it be how fantastic your services are, the latest in industry developments, or preferably, a well-balanced mix of both. But just like everything else in your business, it’s important to track your return on investment so you know just how much time you should be devoting to researching, writing, and responding. Now, there’s a ton of super …

Achieve greatness in practice with the ultimate EMR for PTs, OTs, and SLPs.